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Better safe than sorry: Finding the right bike lock

Over 300,000 bicycles are stolen in Germany every year. Not even one in ten of them turns up again later. To prevent your bike from suffering a similar fate, we advise caution - and a good bike lock. It would be a real shame if your valuable and beloved road bike or mountain bike disappeared because you skimped on security!

Connect instead of lock

But how can you tell which products are good? There is no such thing as a truly "unbreakable" lock. With the right tools and enough time, just about any locking device can be opened. However, experts like the ADFC point out that thieves usually try their hand at a lock for a maximum of 3 minutes. After that, they move on to avoid attracting attention and getting caught. For you, this means first of all: Always lock your bike to a fixed object such as a lamppost, tree or fence. This eliminates the possibility of professional thieves loading the bike into a car to work on the lock unobserved and at their leisure

Good theft protection is not for free

When choosing a suitable lock, you can make a small preselection based on the price. The higher the quality of the material, the harder it is to break. Special bicycle insurers give as a guideline that the purchase price of the lock should be 5 to 10 percent of the value of the bike. And the insurers are already well informed out of their own interest: After all, their goal is to have to replace as few stolen bikes as possible. After the preselection via the price, they therefore recommend to orient themselves on the test seals of independent institutes. In addition, major manufacturers such as ABUS, AXA, KRYPTONITE or TRELOCK divide their range into 10 to 15 different security levels. Which one is appropriate for you depends not only on the purchase price of your bike. You should also consider when, where and how long you leave it alone

High and medium security

If you want to take out your own theft insurance for your bike, you should definitely go for this category. Because only a sufficiently secured bike will be replaced in case of emergency. The locks are characterized by particularly stable materials and resistant locking cylinders

U-locks

The "Fort Knox" among bicycle locks. The hardened metal often withstands even heavy tools and is very rarely picked on the open road. If a high-quality turntable cylinder is also solidly installed, you get optimum security here even for a particularly expensive, coveted bike. However, the fixed steel arch offers only limited connection possibilities. For example, it does not reach around a lantern. In addition, the steel construction weighs more than a kilo. Locks that can be mounted on the frame while riding with a simple mechanism are therefore particularly practical.

Folding locks

Like a folding rule, movable metal bars are connected to each other by eyelets or hinges. When not in use, a folding lock can therefore be folded up small, while when needed it can easily reach around a lamppost with a length of up to two meters. If the individual links are also covered with rubber or textile, this facilitates handling and prevents paint damage to the frame. However, the complex design is also reflected in the price. As far as security is concerned, folding locks are on average behind high-quality U-locks in current tests.

Chain locks

The coarse-linked steel chains are often secured with a padlock. Their monstrous appearance looks very solid in any case. However, the security level depends on the material used. Plain steel can be cut through in seconds with a good bolt cutter. This is not possible with hardened metal. But then such a chain weighs a good two kilograms or more and is unsuitable for daily transport on the bike. However, if such a lock always remains on site, for example on the bike stand in the company, it can be a good alternative to U-locks or folding locks.

Low security level

Although they can even be broken open without heavy tools, even the very simple locks have their place in the bicycle market. Even renowned manufacturers like ABUS or RFR offer them. If you sit on the bench a few meters away from your bike and take a cool sip from your water bottle, thanks to these "immobilizers" no one can get on and ride away with your bike in passing. They are also suitable as additional security for individual bike parts

Cable locks

A lightweight plastic shell encases a metal wire, which is usually only a few millimeters thick. A simple cylinder or a numerical code is used for locking. For a very simple or old wheel, which is no longer attractive to thieves, this protection may be sufficient. Thanks to their light weight and flexibility, cable locks are easy to handle. The coiled spiral locks can be extended to a length of one to two meters and can thus be easily looped around a tree or lamppost

Frame and plug-in locks

The small shackles, which are firmly mounted on the frame, block the rear wheel, making it impossible to drive or push the bike away quickly. If you put your mind to it, you can pick such a lock in no time at all. However, if you are just going to get some fresh bread and keep an eye on your bike through the window, you can be satisfied with this practical and quick solution for a short time. In addition, such a frame lock provides additional security for your rear wheel, if you have, for example, frame or front wheel with another lock attached to a lantern

Mini cable locks

A retractable wire is secured by a lock with a numerical code. Handy and small, these models fit in any pocket and are always at hand when needed. The mini lock is no obstacle for professional thieves. Manufacturers therefore recommend the models primarily as an additional protective device alongside another lock. A mini cable lock can definitely protect against casual thieves who want to "borrow" a carelessly parked bike for a joyride.